Carlo Alberto Viterbo

Carlo Alberto Viterbo: A Neglected Figure of Italian Judaism
Elizabeth Schächter

Reprinted by permission: The Italianist, Volume 33, Issue 3 (October 2013), pp. 505-521

Dr Elizabeth Schächter is Honorary Senior Research Fellow in Comparative Literature and Italian in the School of European Culture and Languages at the University of Kent, UK. She has published widely on Italian literature of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, in particular several seminal studies of the writer Italo Svevo including Origin and Identity: Essays on Svevo and Trieste (2000). More recently her research has focused on Italian Jewry, resulting in the monograph The Jews of Italy, 1848-1915: Between Tradition and Transformation (2011).


Carlo Alberto Viterbo (1889-1974) made wide-ranging contributions over many years to the development and dissemination of Jewish heritage in Italy, and yet, apart from occasional mentions in articles and books, there has been no detailed study of his achievements.[1] To many of his contemporaries, he was considered one of the most important representatives of Italian Judaism.[2]

The various facets of his life reflect the transformation of Italian Jewry from the late nineteenth to the twentieth century. Viterbo was born in Florence to a wealthy, assimilated family for whom Judaism was a painful reminder of a recent past of discrimination and humiliation which must never return.[3] He was, in essence, ‘un figlio dell’assimilazione’,[4] a path taken by the majority of Italian Jews in the post-emancipation period.

The turning point for him came in 1906/07 during his last year at school at the Liceo Michelangelo when Alfonso Pacifici (1889-1981), from a similar background, shared his own discovery of his Jewish identity; Pacifici was to become one of the leading figures of Italian Judaism in the first decades of the twentieth century. Viterbo describes this as ‘l’evento più importante e non solo di questo periodo, ma per certo di tutta la mia vita: l’inizio del riacquisto di una coscienza di Ebreo … fu come una scintilla … che accese grandi luci’.[5] Viterbo’s brother Dario (1890-1961) who was only a year younger and to whom Viterbo was very close, was not affected by this encounter: throughout his life he remained detached from any religious observance or Zionist activity.[6]

Viterbo’s friendship with Pacifici continued at the University of Pisa where he studied law and was immeasurably enriched when Pacifici introduced him to the charismatic and influential chief rabbi of Florence, Samuel Hirsch Margulies (1858-1922), ‘da tutti riconosciuto come se fosse il vero capo degli ebrei d’Italia’.[7] In Viterbo’s words ‘sono state le lezioni del Maestro … è stata la paterna benevolenza con la quale egli mi ha accolto, seguito e guidato … per oltre un decennio fino alla sua scomparsa, che hanno completato … il mio “ritorno” ’.[8] Viterbo became one of Margulies’ devoted disciples and participated in the cultural activities of Florence: the Pro Cultura Ebraica, the youth conferences and the journal, La Settimana Israelitica (1910-15). His editorship, together with Pacifici, Quinto Sinigaglia and David Prato, of this weekly journal was for him ‘il passo più ebraicamente compromettente’.[9]

He played a crucial part in what can be described as ‘a Jewish Renaissance’ in Florence whose impact resonated throughout Italy in the decades before the First World War: ‘gli ideali morali e sionistici insegnati dal Rabbino Margulies sono la base dell’operato di molte persone divenute poi simboli dell’ebraismo italiano come Alfonso Pacifici, Carlo Alberto Viterbo, Enzo Bonaventura’.[10] In June 1918, while still serving in the army as a cavalry officer,[11] Viterbo married Nella Uzielli (1892-1973) from a prominent Sephardic family who settled in Tuscany at the beginning of the nineteenth century. His only child, Giuseppe, was born on 9 August 1927.[12]

It was through Margulies and his circle that Viterbo studied Hebrew – he subsequently published a volume entitled Una via verso l’ebraico and taught Hebrew at various times[13] – explored his Jewish patrimony and became a committed Zionist. A significant episode in his life, which gave him immense pride, was the ‘revolutionary’ election of December 1919 when eleven young Zionists, Viterbo and Pacifici among them, gained control of the administrative council of the Jewish community of Florence.

A royal decree was needed to oust them in May 1920.[14] They effected many salient changes in that short period, including altering the name of the community from ‘comunità israelitica’ to the more ethnically assertive ‘Comune ebraico’; opening meetings to the public; displaying the Jewish flag as a powerful visual symbol of their Zionist intentions; and publishing a bi-monthly supplement to Israel, entitled Il comune ebraico. Organo della comunità israelitica di Firenze e delle forze di rinnovamento della vita ebraica, which they sent to other communities. They also planned to extend voting rights to make the organization more democratic; to improve the legal and financial status of the community’s employees, and to assign a more elevated role to the rabbi who, as custodian of Jewish law, would have the right to veto the Council’s deliberations.

They thus responded to Herzl’s call that he had made during the second Zionist congress, to ‘conquer the communities’ in order to further the Zionist cause.[15] In 1921, Viterbo was for a brief time president of the Federazione Sionistica Italiana (FSI): ‘assume la guida della Federazione, in cui doveva da allora aver parte preminente’;[16] and was a delegate at the international Zionist Congress in Karlsbad in 1921. When Chaim Weizmann, president of the World Zionist Organization and future first president of Israel, visited Florence in April 1922, the memory of his encounter with the small group of Zionists there made a deep impression on him, which he later recorded in his autobiography:

[among them was] a young and ardent prophet of Zionism, Arnoldo [sic] Pacifici; and when they formed their society they went the whole way: they spoke Hebrew; they began to prepare themselves for life in Palestine; many of them – including Pacifici himself – became strictly orthodox; they edited one of the best Zionist papers of the day – Israel. Numerically insignificant, they were by the depth of their conviction and their absolute sincerity a great moral force. And though at first the community at large was inclined to resent them, they were so tactful, and at the same time so transparently honest in their faith, that even convinced anti-Zionists came to look upon them as something in the nature of ‘apostles’ of the Jewish revival, and to respect, if they could not understand them … The Italian Jewish community seemed to be a community of sujets d’élite. And the élite of that community, accustomed to enjoy in Italy every material and social advantage a man can ask, were turning their eyes to Palestine. I could not explain it. I could only thank God.[17]

Florence in the 1920s and 1930s continued to be the ‘capital’ of Italian Judaism and Zionism: the director of the Rabbinical College was Elia Samuele Artom, one of Margulies’ former students; it was the centre of the FSI and Keren Hayesod (The Jewish National Fund, established at the 1920 international Zionist Congress in London); the publishing hub of the foremost Jewish journals, Israel (1916-1938; 1944-1974); La Rassegna Mensile di Israel (1925-); Israel dei ragazzi (1919), and of the new publishing venture the Casa editrice Israel (1921) established by Dante Lattes,[18] Pacifici and Viterbo, which was an important conduit not only for the dissemination of works by Italian Jewish writers such as Lattes, but also for Italian translations of prominent foreign Jewish authors; the initial list of planned publications appeared in Israel in April 1921. Viterbo was also among the founders of the Convegni di Studi Ebraici (1921-1938), Zionist in orientation, which promoted the study of all aspects of Jewish culture with a particular emphasis on the study of language and on religious observance; Attilio Milano refers to ‘l’età d’oro dei Convegni’.[19]

Another project to attract young Jews, organized by Pacifici between 1931 and 1938, were regular camping holidays in summer and winter, where a collective Jewish life could be experienced ‘per uscire fuori dalla monotonia e dal grigiore burocratico cui si era abbassata la vita quotidiana nell’epoca fascista’.[20] The last Jewish Youth Conference – the first three were held before the First World War – took place in Livorno in 1924; Viterbo recalls: ‘fui tra i promotori, tra i presenti e tra i molti che trassero insegnamenti e incitamenti da quella memorabile riunione’.[21] Viterbo was also involved in a conference held in Florence in April 1925 to debate the problems of the thousand or so foreign Jewish students resident in Italy, ‘venuti da terre inospitali’.[22]

A year before, the Federazione Associazioni Economiche Studenti Stranieri Ebrei had been established in the Tuscan capital with ‘filiali’ in other Italian cities; the focus of the conference was to report on the activities of the Federation. Viterbo was asked to speak about ‘Gli studenti e l’ebraismo italiano’, in which he analysed the cultural differences between Italian and foreign Jews; the latter had hoped to find ‘una vita completamente sionista’, whereas in Italy Jewish life was centred on the family which made it difficult for outsiders to enter. To much applause, he addressed the participants with a few words of Hebrew: ‘quando noi parliamo in ebraico, ci sentiamo più vicini, più fratelli’.[23]

The impetus for all these initiatives in Florence came above all from ‘gli sforzi … di figure di assoluto rilievo quali Alfonso Pacifici, Carlo Alberto Viterbo, Elia Samuele Artom.[24] Viterbo’s influence was also significant on a national level: as vice-president of the FSI and then as president, from 1931 until 1933. In a letter to Weizmann informing him of his election, written in French, Viterbo expressed his devotion and affection for ‘le chef … vous serez pour nous un exemple et un guide’; in his reply, Weizmann, offering ‘heartiest congratulations’, wrote that ‘it is a source of great satisfaction both to me and to all of us to see you at the head of Zionist affairs in Italy’ and adds ‘most grateful am I for the expression of your sentiments towards me, which are, believe me, very encouraging in these difficult times’.

He concludes with the wish that Viterbo’s period in office ‘be crowned with good results for the work in Italy, and in the general movement’.[25] In Giorgio Romano’s opinion, during this period, the FSI was more structured; Italian delegates were regularly sent to the international Zionist congresses and Italian donations to Jewish funds were considerable when in the past zero contributions had been made.[26] In 1928, Viterbo became president of the Italian branch of Keren Hayesod; he was among the first subscribers to the fund in Italy.[27] In 1932 two Zionists were elected on to the Florence Council; Viterbo was one of them, and in 1933 he was elected as a member of the Council of the Unione delle Comunità Israelitiche Italiane (UCII).[28] In these official roles, Viterbo cut a distinguished figure: although small of stature, he was always well dressed and refined of manner; Augusto Segre compares him to the biblical Aron ‘famoso … nella tradizione ebraica, perché amava e ricercava la pace per tutti i suoi fratelli’.[29]

As an anti-fascist[30] and Zionist, Viterbo was at the forefront of the bitter divisions within Italian Jewry, in particular the confrontations with the fascist Jews of Turin and their journal La nostra bandiera. It is well documented that Jews joined the fascist party and it is also acknowledged that many Jewish leaders were fascist and continued to be so after the promulgation of the 1938 Racial Laws, imposing on others their own ideology which Michele Sarfatti describes as ‘il processo di fascistizzazione … [del] la parte ebraica della popolazione italiana’.[31]

What is less well known is the antipathy that developed between fascist and anti-fascist Jews, threatening to split the Jewish community in Italy at a time when they faced serious external danger. The catalyst for such hostilities occurred on 31 March 1934 with the arrest in Turin of sixteen members of the clandestine anti-fascist movement ‘Giustizia e Libertà’, eleven of whom were Jews. This prompted a violent anti-semitic and anti-Zionist national press campaign and an immediate response from a group of fascist Jews also from Turin, led by Ettore Ovazza, who formed themselves into ‘a brand of militant Jewish fascism’.[32]

On 1 May 1934, they published the first issue of their journal La nostra bandiera. Settimanale degli italiani di religione ebraica (1934-1938) in which they proudly stated: ‘siamo dei soldati, siamo dei fascisti: ci sentiamo eguali a tutti gli altri cittadini, specialmente nei doveri verso la Patria’, for which they were ready to fight and die. They were vehemently against political Zionism – Palestine as a Jewish nation was an historical anachronism ‘che deve essere combattuto … Non è ammissibile che nel nostro paese vi siano dei cittadini che possano pensare con nostalgia ad una terra che non sia suolo italiano … CHI E’ SIONISTA NON E’ ITALIANO’ [sic].[33]

The ‘Bandieristi’ as they were called attracted many prominent followers; their own members stood as candidates for council elections; their journal had a weekly circulation of 2,800 in the first few months; several rabbis contributed articles to it.[34] This growing support for such militant fascism provoked ‘una crisi gravissima e senza precedenti per l’ebraismo italiano’.[35] The chief rabbi of Rome, Angelo Sacerdoti, attempted to seek a compromise: in return for membership of the UCII Council, the editors agreed to transform La nostra bandiera into a cultural monthly.

Thus on 9 January 1935, three ‘Bandieristi’, Dario Nunes Franco (recently elected president of the Livorno community), General Guido Liuzzi (recently elected president of the Turin community) and Ettore Ovazza (editor of La nostra bandiera) were duly co-opted.[36] In a statement to the meeting, Ovazza reiterated their fascist, anti-Zionist stance and it was Viterbo who spoke for the Zionist cause and the right of Jews to love Israel: ‘il nostro sionismo è un’appendice della nostra ebraicità … è errato … negare l’italianità dei sionisti … ma noi sionisti amiamo anche Israele. Il sionismo lo intendiamo non soltanto filantropico, ma anche fatto per noi stessi, perché dalla rinascita d’Israele rifluisce una vivificazione della lingua, della cultura, delle nostre più nobili tradizioni’.[37] In a letter written two days later to the secretary of the Florence Jewish community, Viterbo articulated his fears not only for Italian Zionists: ‘l’attacco è diretto alla compagine ebraica, alle dipendenze delle Comunità, alla libertà di riunione e di studio. Dobbiamo difendere tutto questo!’[38] With such divergent views on the very concept of Jewish identity, debate was problematic and even practical matters proved intractable such as the collection of funds for German Jewish refugees: the ‘Bandieristi’ rejected the involvement of Zionist organizations.[39]

The compromise did not hold: on 2 May 1935, Ovazza, Liuzzi and Nunes Franco resigned from the UCII and some months later resumed their political attacks in La nostra bandiera. Sacerdoti died suddenly in February 1935 at the age of 49; in his diary, Viterbo expressed regret for his untimely death, but also noted: ‘in verità in questi ultimi tempi alcuni atti del Rabb. Sacerdoti non mi erano troppo piaciuti. Accenno alla sua azione presso il governo esponendo a “provvedimenti” i Gruppi Sionisti ad una soverchia valutazione del cosiddetto gruppo Torinese e alla immisione di esso nel Consiglio dell’Unione’.[40]

In other words he felt that Sacerdoti’s actions had exposed the Zionist groups to danger and that he had overvalued the ‘Bandieristi’ in his relations with the fascist government. Augusto Segre concurs with this view: ‘per opera loro, diretta o indiretta, fummo in varie forme perseguitati, sottoposti a duri interrogatori e molte volte arrestati.’ He was convinced that one of the occasions he was subjected to prolonged questioning by fascist police was as a result of a ‘denuncia’ by a prominent member of the Bandiera movement.[41] In January 1937, in a further attempt to undermine the UCII and gain government approbation, the ‘Bandieristi’ formed a secessionist ‘Comitato degli italiani di religione ebraica’ which was resolutely anti-Zionist and ultra-fascist; it attained wide-spread support. As a consequence, in April, the Council of the UCII, weakened by the death of their long-standing president, Felice Ravenna, a month before, resigned en masse.

However, the government instructed them to remain in office.[42] Throughout this period, Israel was the only Jewish journal, led by its editors, Dante Lattes and Alfonso Pacifici, to withstand the growing onslaught of anti-semitic attacks in the national press, defending the Jewish and Zionist cause.[43] The Zionist periodical became the target of the last act of perverted loyalty to the fascist regime perpetrated by the Bandieristi: on 15 November 1938, a group of five fascist Florentine Jews – one of them may have been a councillor of that community – burnt down its printing press and offices.[44] They thus extinguished ‘l’ultima voce dell’ebraismo italiano’.[45] The fascist allegiance of Ettore Ovazza and his followers was only shattered by the series of racial laws in November 1938 and January 1939 when all Jews, even the discriminati, were stripped of their rights and reduced to the status of second-class citizens.[46]

A postscript to these years of internal divisions within Italian Jewry: Viterbo wrote a lengthy article in Israel to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of Sacerdoti’s death and he comments critically on the rabbi’s relationship with the fascist government ‘fino al punto di tollerare di collaborare, fuori e dentro la Comunità ebraica, con fascisti e filofascisti’. In his opinion, Sacerdoti should have been more cautious and ‘un po’ meno caloroso’; less acquiescent; he should not have facilitated the entry of the fascist, anti-Zionist ‘Bandieristi’ into the UCII (in 1935): ‘il Consiglio dell’Unione non avrebbe dovuto essere “contaminato” dalla presenza di tal genere di oppositori’.[47] This article provoked an angry response from Liuzzi’s son (Liuzzi died in 1942), deeply offended by such words as ‘contaminated’ with reference to his father. In his reply, Viterbo assured Giorgio Liuzzi that he had no wish to give offence, but it was important to relate events with historical accuracy and to document the activities of those who ‘come italiani hanno, purtroppo, mal servito l’Italia e come Ebrei hanno, purtroppo, mal difeso i loro fratelli, l’Ebraismo e, in definitiva, se stessi’.[48]

In addition to his other roles, Viterbo worked tirelessly to help Jewish refugees fleeing from Nazi oppression: ‘fu tra i primissimi a sentire questo problema come un dovere primario … organizzando anche a Roma il “Comitato Profughi dalla Germania”, poi il “Comasebit” e, infine la “Delasem” ’.[49] The Delegazione per l’assistenza agli emigranti (Delasem, 1939-1947) which assisted thousands of Jews was established by the new president of the Unione delle Comunità Israelitiche Italiane (UCII), Dante Almansi, with its headquarters in Genoa and offices throughout Italy; the one in Rome was run by Settimio Sorani ‘[che] lavorava in perfetta intesa con Viterbo per tutte le pratiche con gli uffici ministeriali, i comandi e le ambasciate’.[50]

In this context, Amos Luzzatto alludes to the courage, leadership and international contacts of Viterbo and Raffaele Cantoni, another prominent anti-fascist who after the war became president of the UCII: ‘Credo vadano messi in giusta evidenza due elementi relative all’attività di questi comitati … la loro importante esperienza a livello internazionale, con la partecipazione di Raffaele Cantoni … e di Carlo Alberto Viterbo. Il secondo elemento importante era il coinvolgimento attivo, in mansioni dirigenziali … di ebrei antifascisti … come gli stessi Cantoni e Viterbo … non è esagerato definire eroici gli sforzi compiuti’.[51]

Initially, however, the UCII was slow to react to the plight of German Jewish refugees. In April 1933, in response to one of the many letters from leaders of the Jewish communities requesting directives on how to assist the German Jews, the president of the UCII, Felice Ravenna replied that ‘noi siamo stati costretti ad un’apparente inazione per ragioni politiche evidenti’ – fear of increasing anti-semitism in the Italian national press and of incurring the displeasure of the fascist government should large numbers arrive on Italian soil.[52]

At the first meeting of the newly elected Council of the UCII of 6 April 1933, there was a fierce debate on this question, with Viterbo speaking out in favour of decisive action. The meeting ended with statements of sympathy and solidarity, but without any concrete proposals. It was only after the chief rabbi of Rome Angelo Sacerdoti received Mussolini’s approval that the UCII gave the go-ahead for committees to be formed and finances to be collected, under the auspices of the Comitato centrale di assistenza ai profughi della Germania, members of which included Viterbo. However, even then the strategy of the UCII was to encourage emigration to Palestine rather than refuge in Italy.[53]

In May 1936, Mussolini declared the founding of the Italian Empire with the acquisition of Ethiopia. He decided to take an interest in the Ethiopian Jews, the Falasha, and asked David Prato, chief rabbi of Rome, to organize a mission to report on their situation. In the event, to expedite matters, Prato entrusted this difficult task to Viterbo. He willingly accepted having been interested in the Falasha through the work of Margulies and the well-known Polish scholar Jacques Faitlovich: before the First World War, several Falasha had been brought to Italy to study in Florence at the Rabbinical College where Viterbo had met them; he became friends with Emanuele Taamrat. Viterbo, although an anti-fascist and Zionist, was appointed Commissario Governativo per la Comunità ebraica dell’Etiopia. He travelled extensively in that country between July 1936 and February 1937.

He was accompanied by Taamrat, then director of the Jewish school in Addis Ababa. Viterbo produced detailed reports, scholarly articles, and chapters for a book which remained unfinished at his death. His son edited his letters from his travels.[54] In these letters, addressed primarily to his young son, then nine years old – ‘Mio caro, scrivo a te che sei un ometto’ – he vividly describes his journey by ship from Brindisi; his first meeting with Taamrat and the Falasha: ‘mi trovo veramente e cordialmente “in famiglia”’; the climate; his visit to members of the local royal family; the Jewish festivities; his forty-day journey into the hinterland by car, mule and on foot to visit Falasha villages, covering over 300 kilometres, and repeatedly his satisfaction in carrying out his role: ‘sono convinto, e dico questo soprattutto a mio figlio a cui penso di essere di esempio e di insegnamento, che non ci sia nulla di più degno a questo mondo che un’opera buona perseguita con sforzo’.[55]

On the day after Mussolini entered the war on the side of Germany, in the early hours of 11 June 1940, Viterbo together with many other anti-fascist Jews was arrested. In official police records he is described as a Zionist.[56] He was held for 17 days in the notorious Regina Coeli prison and then transferred to an internment camp in Urbisaglia (province of Macerata) where he remained from 28 June 1940 to 1 July 1941.[57]

While at the camp he continued to work for Delasem; he organized Hebrew and Italian classes, ran the small library, officiated at religious services and gave Bible classes: ‘io qui sono diventato una specie di maestro di guida per questa piccola Comunità’.[58] In his many letters to his wife and son from Urbisaglia, he describes the Villa Bandini-Giustiniani in which he was housed; the garden with its ancient trees which gave him great solace; the company of his close friend Raffaele Cantoni; the decency of the camp director; the daily routine. He drew strength from his religious faith which he imparts to his son particularly in the days leading up to the boy’s Bar Mitzvah and expresses his sadness at not being present. He was profoundly aware that there were those far worse off than himself; he implores his wife to bear ‘in silenzio e con rassegnazione questa dura prova’ … ‘non conviene strillare, imprecare, recriminare’.[59] Viterbo, like many other Jews in similar conditions, faced his deprivations with great dignity and without protest; for him, as for others, the worst experience was his imprisonment in Regina Coeli: in contrast to the humiliation, the squalor and horror of prison life incarcerated with common criminals, the internment camp was experienced with relief: ‘qui si può vivere senza lussi o mollezze, ma vivere! Lavarsi! Riposare! Cambiarsi!’[60]

On his release,[61] he returned to Rome and until its liberation, he, like many thousands of other Jews, assumed a false identity; he continued his work for Delasem: ‘nella clandestinità, insieme ai più animosi, cercai di continuare quell’assistenza morale e materiale alla Comunità in tempesta ed ai profughi’.[62] He reactivated the Federazione Sionistica Italiana which he led as president for nearly two more decades (1944-1961),[63] organizing the first meeting in Rome on 27 June 1944 just three weeks after the city was liberated and he edited Il Bollettino ebraico d’informazioni (13 July-23 November 1944) which signalled the resumption of Italian Jewish publications in Italy by Italian Jews: ‘il merito di aver ridato il nuovo incentivo alla pubblicistica ebraica in Italia spetta, principalmente, a Carlo Alberto Viterbo. La sua ricca esperienza della vita ebraica italiana, le sue doti di uomo fermo nei propositi, coraggioso nel gesto e costante nell’opera, gli hanno permesso lo scatto dei primi passi e l’energia della lunga corsa’.[64]

Five hundred copies were printed bi-monthly and distributed free. Viterbo was assisted by young Jews from the Circolo Ebraico in Via Balbo which also housed the offices of Il Bollettino, the FSI and the Jewish National Fund. Il Bollettino was financed by individuals and by Jewish Palestinian soldiers of the British Eighth Army who also provided much of the information.[65] It was replaced on 17 December 1944 by Israel. Viterbo recalls: ‘presi il coraggio a due mani, mi tuffai nell’impresa di far risorgere l’Israel, impresa alla quale sono rimasto legato – settimana dopo settimana – per questi ventiquattro anni’;[66] his first editorial was appropriately entitled ‘Liberazione’. However, ‘il primo nucleo della rinascita sionistica sul suolo dell’Europa liberata’[67] was established in Bari in November 1943 by Jews from outside Italy: Jewish Palestinian soldiers of the British Eighth Army – they were Jews serving as volunteers; foreign Jewish refugees released from Ferramonti prison camp and by other groups from Bari, Brindisi and Taranto. These were temporary gatherings of refugees waiting to emigrate to Palestine.[68]

As president of the FSI and editor of Israel, Carlo Alberto Viterbo was one of the key players who contributed to the reconstruction of Jewish life in Italy in the post-war era; the others were David Prato, chief rabbi of Rome; Raffaele Cantoni, elected president of the UCII in 1946; and Dante Lattes, director of education and culture for the UCII (1946; editor of La Rassegna Mensile di Israel, from 1948). Cantoni and Viterbo were the two Italian delegates at the 22nd World Zionist Congress held in Basle in December 1946, the first to be held after the war; Viterbo continued to represent Italian Zionists at international conferences until 1972.[69]

In January 1945, the first post-war conference of the FSI was held in Rome with fifty-five delegates from all over Italy. Gratitude was offered to the Italian people and to the Allied Forces; grave concern was expressed for Jews still suffering in occupied Europe; adherence to the policies of the World Zionist Organization was declared, in particular with regard to Israel; with regard to Italy, plans for the reconstruction of the institutions of the Jewish communities were articulated; an executive committee of the FSI with Viterbo as president was elected.[70] Thus the democratic reconstitution of the FSI, led by Viterbo, signalled the resurrection of Jewish life in liberated Italy. Augusto Segre recalls the euphoria in the offices of the FSI in Rome when on 29 November 1947 the United Nations passed the resolution in favour of the creation of a Jewish State. Among the many celebrations was a gathering of more than a thousand people around the Arch of Titus, a potent symbol of the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, and for the first time Jews passed beneath it; they laid a wreath with the words ‘dopo 1877 anni lo Stato Ebraico risorge’.[71]

Viterbo’s greatest legacy and one to which he devoted the remainder of his life, nearly thirty years, was as editor of the weekly journal Israel. It was founded by Alfonso Pacifici and Dante Lattes in 1916 as a continuation of Il Corriere Israelitico (of Trieste) and La Settimana Israelitica (of Florence), both of which had ceased publication in the previous year; in Weizmann’s opinion Israel was ‘one of the best Zionist papers of the day’.[72] Viterbo’s contribution until its suppression in 1938 had been largely administrative, but he became one of Lattes’ closest collaborators during the difficult years of 1937 and 1938.[73] Viterbo also took the decision to give up his professional activity as a lawyer in order to dedicate himself to promoting Judaism principally through the pages of Israel, considered ‘il portavoce degli ebrei italiani’.[74]

Although its print run was small, 2,700 per issue, Israel was nevertheless influential in that it had a national circulation through subscriptions; it was distributed to all the Jewish communities; it was the only Jewish journal sold in newsagents, and it was read by government officials.[75] Viterbo received funding from the FSI and the UCII,[76] but it was always precarious: ‘il finanziamento del giornale è sempre stata la grande preoccupazione che ha assillato mio padre perché le ristrettezze finanziarie gli impedivano di avere validi collaboratori’.[77] As a result, Viterbo was not only the editor, but he also researched and wrote most of the articles; he was the translator – from English, French and German – proof-reader and sometimes even the administrator and office boy.[78] However, other leading figures of Italian Judaism, such as Raffaele Cantoni, Dante Lattes and Alfonso Pacifici, contributed articles; in the 1960s Raoul Elia became a co-editor, and to encourage others to voice their opinions in the journal, Viterbo introduced a regular slot entitled ‘Tribuna Libera’.

His editorial policy, underpinned by a profound intellectual and moral integrity, was to promote the traditional values of Judaism, Jewish culture, Zionism and the love of Israel.[79] He stated that he wished to convey to each reader ‘il confortevole senso di esser collegato ad una collettività, di esser membro di una grande famiglia’.[80] He campaigned against anti-Semitism, racism, and the insidious encroachments of assimilation. He was not afraid of controversy and could, at times, reveal an ‘indomito spirito polemico’,[81] as in his attacks on what he perceived to be the excessive punitive measures of the British Mandate in Palestine.[82] He did not flinch from reporting on the atrocities of the concentration camps as information filtered out of occupied Europe.[83]

As befits a Zionist journal, the focus was on Israel and the Middle-East, with many perceptive pieces on the Arab-Israeli conflict as it flared up over the years. There were also regular reports on the activities of the World Zionist Organization, the Jewish National Fund, the Federazione Sionistica Italiana, and the Associazione Donne Ebree d’Italia-Women’s International Zionist Organization (ADEI-WIZO). He did not neglect the domestic scene: from the first year of post-war publication, there was a rubric entitled ‘Dalle comunità italiane’, and bulletins on the UCII. On the twentieth anniversary of publication, Viterbo received many letters of congratulation from prominent figures including the Israeli ambassador to Italy, the renowned editor of the Jewish Chronicle William Frankel, the presidents of the FSI and UCII, and the eminent scholar Cecil Roth who wrote that ‘Viterbo’s editorship of Israel since the Liberation has had a real importance from the historical viewpoint … in giving expression to the unity of Italian Jewry, and conveying the message of Judaism and the eternal hope of the Jewish people to the smallest groups’.[84]

Viterbo’s editorials, invariably signed with his intitials ‘c.a.v.’, were written in an incisive, lucid, persuasive style with the occasional rhetorical flourish, often infused with humour and irony. His last editorial was published on 1 August 1974, a week before he died; with his death, Israel ceased publication. This fact, states Augusto Segre, demonstrates ‘come sia stata importante ed insostituibile l’opera e l’impegno di Viterbo’.[85]



[1] I dedicate this article to Giuseppe and Lionella Viterbo, his son and daughter-in-law, for their invaluable friendship.

[2] See for example: Francesco Del Canuto, ‘La soppressione della stampa ebraica in Italia e la sua ripresa (1938-1944)’ in Liliana Mezzabotta (ed.), Italia Judaica. Gli ebrei nell’Italia unita 1870-1945. Atti del IV convegno internazionale. Siena 12-16 giugno 1989 (Rome: Pubblicazioni degli Archivi di Stato, 1993), pp. 464-73: ‘Desidero dedicare questo mio intervento … al mio Maestro Carlo Alberto Viterbo … una delle figure più rappresentative dell’ebraismo e del sionismo italiano’ (p. 464); Augusto Segre, Memorie di vita ebraica. Casale Monferrato-Roma-Gerusalemme 1918-1960 (Rome: Bonacci, 1979), p. 373: ‘La sua presenza a … congressi nazionali e internazionali hanno sempre dato lustro e decoro a tutto l’Ebraismo italiano’. Settimio Sorani, ‘Un caro amico’, Israel, December 1974, p. 10: ‘un’amicizia fraterna, tenendomi legato a lui che considerai mio maestro, cercando di seguirlo e di imitarlo’. This edition of Israel is a special issue commissioned by L’Unione delle Comunità Israelitiche Italiane to commemorate Viterbo who died in August of that year. I thank Giuseppe Viterbo for giving me a copy.

[3] Carlo Alberto Viterbo, ‘Un Maestro ancora presente’, Rassegna Mensile di Israel, 38, 4 (1972), pp. 195-206 (p. 199): ‘La mia esperienza fu quella di un giovane, nato e cresciuto in una famiglia ebraica “assimilatissima” … del tutto ignaro di “ebraicità”, considerata … come cosa superata, appartenente ad un passato prossimo di discriminazioni e di umiliazioni che non dovevano ritornare’. I thank Giuseppe Viterbo for bringing this article to my attention.

[4] Raoul Elia, ‘Un uomo, una vita’, Israel, December 1974, p. 4.

[5] Carlo Alberto Viterbo, ‘Una vita per l’ebraismo’, Israel, December 1974, pp. 6-8 (p. 6). At the request of his friend Raoul Elia who was also for a period co-editor of Israel, Viterbo wrote this short account of his life. See also Pacifici’s recollection of this episode; he describes Viterbo as his ‘amico carissimo e per anni collaboratore fedele’ and as ‘il primissimo dei miei “discepoli”’ in Cinquant’anni intorno a un’idea. Israel Segullà. Vol. 1. La nostra sintesi programma (Jerusalem: Edizioni Taoz, 1955), pp. 75-79 (pp. 76, 77).

[6] Dario Viterbo became a well-known artist and sculptor in Italy and also the United States where he emigrated.

[7] Alfonso Pacifici, ‘Ha-rav Shemuel Zevì Margulies’, Rassegna Mensile di Israel, 28, 6-7 (1962), pp. 251-61 (p. 254).

[8] Viterbo, ‘Una vita per l’ebraismo’, p. 6. See also ‘Un Maestro ancora presente’, p. 200: ‘Il Maestro … rabbino Margulies …mi accolse con animo aperto … e assunse con calore … il compito di far di me un Ebreo … [era] per me un secondo padre’.

[9] Viterbo, ‘Una vita per l’ebraismo’, p. 6. He was forced to withdraw because of strong family opposition. However, he continued to work behind the scenes.

[10] Lionella Viterbo, ‘La nomina del Rabbino Margulies: un excursus nella Firenze ebraica di fine Ottocento’, Rassegna Mensile di Israel, 59 (1993), pp. 67-89 (p. 68). See also Elizabeth Schächter, The Jews of Italy 1848-1915. Between Tradition and Transformation (London: Vallentine Mitchell, 2011), chapter six.

[11] Augusto Segre documents the moving encounter between Viterbo and his batman, Priori Giusto, fifty-nine years later (in 1974), and Giusto’s donation of one thousand lire on the death of Viterbo shortly after their reunion ‘per essere ricordato in memoria del mio Capitano Carlo Alberto Viterbo’, in ‘Un attendente fedele’ in Racconti di vita ebraica. Casale Monferrato-Roma-Gerusalemme 1876-1985 (Rome: Carucci, 1986), pp. 197-98.

[12] Like his father, Giuseppe had a professional career, as a civil engineer, and also served, as a councillor and vice-president, in the Unione delle Comunità Ebraiche Italiane.

[13] The book, Una via verso l’ebraico (Milan: Federazione Sionistica Italiana, 1968), originated from fifty instalments entitled ‘L’Ebraico per tutti’ published in Israel between October 1957 and January 1959. See also his article ‘La trascrizione dell’ebraico’, Rassegna Mensile di Israel, 8, 10-12 (1934), pp. 549-70. Viterbo taught Hebrew in the 1930s and also in the 1950s at the University of Rome. See Sorani, ‘Un caro amico’, p. 10; Sergio Minerbi, Raffaele Cantoni. Un ebreo anticonformista (Assisi/Rome: Carucci, 1978), p. 214.

[14] They were considered to be agitators of the state and anti-Italian in their espousal of political Zionism, in their belief that they were a small part of the future State of Israel. See Aldo Astrologo and Francesco Del Canuto, ‘Firenze 1920: storia del “Comune Ebraico”’, Rassegna Mensile di Israel, 44, 1 (1978), pp. 6-42. Viterbo recalls: ‘personalmente in una discussione fui accusato di essere un pericolo pubblico. Il mio sionismo era pericolo pubblico’ (Astrologo and Del Canuto, p. 39, n. 43).

[15] Regular meetings were held in Viterbo’s home prior to the elections to discuss their ‘Programma sionistico’ (Viterbo’s diary entries for October and November 1919); Margulies was also closely involved. (Unpublished diary notes; personal archive of Giuseppe Viterbo. I thank Giuseppe Viterbo for allowing me to read them). See also Astrologo and Del Canuto, ‘Firenze 1920: storia del “Comune Ebraico”, pp. 6-42; by the same authors, ‘Rivoluzionari in Comunità’, Israel, December 1974, p. 4; Viterbo, ‘Una vita per l’ebraismo’, Ibid; p. 7. For a comprehensive account of Italian Zionism until the First World War, see Schächter, The Jews of Italy, chapter five.

[16] Giorgio Romano, ‘Il Sionismo in Italia fino alla seconda guerra mondiale’, Rassegna Mensile di Israel, 42, 7-8 (1976), pp. 341-54 (p. 348); Viterbo, ‘Una vita per l’ebraismo’, p. 7. Felice Ravenna, president of the FSI and Angelo Sullam, one of the vice-presidents resigned in May 1921, thus Viterbo as the other vice-president had to step in for a few months until the various disputes were resolved.

[17] Chaim Weizmann, Trial and Error. The Autobiography of Chaim Weizmann (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1949), pp. 356-57. On the polemic regarding Weizmann’s visit to Florence, see Schächter, The Jews of Italy, p. 224, and Simonetta della Seta and Daniel Carpi, ‘Il movimento sionistico’, in Corrado Vivanti (ed.), Storia d’Italia. Annali 11. Gli ebrei in Italia (Turin: Einaudi, 1997), vol. 2, pp. 1321-68 (p. 1329).

[18] Rabbi Dante Lattes (1876-1965) was a leading figure of Italian Judaism: editor of Il Corriere Israelitico between 1903 and 1915; influential within the FSI in the immediate post First World War period; co-founder with Alfonso Pacifici of Israel. See, for example, David Bidussa, Amos Luzzatto and Gadi Luzzatto Voghera, Oltre il ghetto. Momenti e figure della cultura ebraica in Italia tra l’Unità e il fascismo (Brescia: Morcelliana, 1992).

[19] Attilio Milano, ‘Gli enti culturali ebraici in Italia nell’ultimo trentennio (1907-1937)’, Rassegna Mensile di Israel, 12, 6 (1938), pp. 253-69 (p. 262). See also Mario Toscano, Ebraismo e antisemitismo in Italia. Dal 1848 alla guerra dei sei giorni (Milan: FrancoAngeli, 2003), pp. 93-109; Massimo Longo Adorno, Gli ebrei fiorentini dall’emancipazione alla Shoà (Florence: Giuntina, 2003), pp. 40-42; the organization was under constant police surveillance and was closed down in March 1938 (see Longo Adorno).

[20] The words of Max Varadi, cited in Longo Adorno, p. 45. Varadi was secretary general of the UCII in 1936-37. See also the chapter on the ‘campeggi’, in Arturo Marzano, Una terra per rinascere. Gli ebrei italiani e l’emigrazione in Palestina prima della guerra (1920-1940) (Genoa-Milan: Marietti, 2003).

[21] Viterbo, ‘Una vita per l’ebraismo’, p. 7. See also Francesco Del Canuto, Il movimento sionistico in Italia dalle origini al 1924 (Milan: Federazione Sionistica Italiana, 1972), pp. 137-49; Bidussa, in Bidussa, Luzzatto and Luzzatto Voghera, Oltre il ghetto, pp. 244-74; Toscano, Ebraismo e antisemitismo, pp. 99-107; Giuseppe Laras, ‘Si è commemorato a Livorno il Convegno del 1924’, Rassegna Mensile di Israel, 41, 1 (1975), pp. 3-15.

[22] Israel, 19 March 1925. See also Toscano, Ebraismo e antisemitismo in Italia, pp. 107-109.

[23] Israel, 23 April 1925. This issue contains a detailed report of the conference proceedings. Alfonso Pacifici was also present and spoke on the positive effect on Italian Judaism of the influx of Eastern European Jews. Viterbo became the Secretary and Treasurer of the Florence committee; see his unpublished Curriculum Vitae in Dr Giuseppe Viterbo’s personal archive.

[24] Longo Adorno, p. 34.

[25] The letters are dated 28 May and 10 June 1931. Personal archive of Dr Giuseppe Viterbo. In his letter, Viterbo stated that he would not follow the usual formula of blaming the leaders for all problems. At this time, Weizmann faced hostile challenges within the Zionist movement which led to a vote of censure against him at the Basle congress in July of that year. See, for example, Barnet Litvinoff, Weizmann, Last of the Patriarchs (Hodder and Stoughton: London, 1976), pp. 156-62.

[26] Romano, ‘Il Sionismo in Italia fino alla seconda guerra mondiale’, pp. 344, 348-49, 352.

[27] See Renato Spiegel (ed.), Archivio Alfonso Pacifici (1899-1974) (Jerusalem: The Central Archives For the History of the Jewish People, 2000), p. 39.

[28] See Longo Adorno, pp. 35, 36.

[29] Segre, Memorie di vita ebraica, p. 374.

[30] Viterbo’s father was a fascist: ‘restò affascinato dalle prime promesse, si iscrisse al Fascio e mi invitò a seguire il suo esempio. Non lo feci’. He died in 1930. ‘Una vita per l’ebraismo’, p. 7.

[31] Michele Sarfatti, Gli ebrei nell’Italia fascista. Vicende, identità, persecuzione (Turin, Einaudi, 2000), p. 70. In 1926 and again in 1937, the Florence Jewish administration was fascist in orientation; see Sarfatti, ibid; p.70, and Longo Adorno, pp. 55-56: in 1937, in his election speech, the president Goffredo Passigli, stated: ‘esprimo gli intendimenti del consiglio che sono quelli di imprimere ad ogni atto della vita ebraica il suggello del più vivace ed incondizionato assenso al regime’ (p. 55). See also Augusto Segre, Memorie di vita ebraica: ‘imposero praticamente a mio padre di iscriversi’ (p. 65). His father was the rabbi of Casale Monferrato, a Zionist and anti-fascist who nevertheless had to succumb to the dictates of the Jewish administrative council.

[32] Alexander Stille, Benevolence and Betrayal. Five Italian Jewish Families Under Fascism (London: Jonathan Cape, 1992), p. 22.

[33] La nostra bandiera, 1 May, p. 1 and 17 May, p. 1, 1934. The editors described their journal as ‘un bollettino militare’ in which to conduct ‘la nostra battaglia’ (10 May, 1934).

[34] See Stille, p. 53.

[35] Longo Adorno, p. 52. See also Bruno Di Porto, ‘Gli ebrei italiani di fronte al 1938’, Rassegna Mensile di Israel, 73, 2 (2007), pp. 249-76: ‘la lotta interna travagliava l’ebraismo italiano’ (p. 251); in the same volume, Tullia Catalan, ‘Ebrei in Italia negli anni Trenta’, pp. 25-43.

[36] See La nostra bandiera, 17 January 1935: ‘Il successo della nostra azione’. Liuzzi was nominated to the Executive (Giunta Esecutiva) of the UCII. At the end of the meeting, Ovazza’s proposal to send ‘un fervido telegramma di devozione’ to Mussolini was approved ‘per acclamazione’.

[37] Cited in Renzo De Felice, Storia degli ebrei italiani sotto il fascismo, third edn. (Turin: Einaudi, 1972 [1961]), p. 222. However, in their detailed report of the meeting, the editors of La nostra bandiera omitted Viterbo’s words in defence of political Zionism; they were transmuted into a bland statement about solidarity for persecuted Jews in other countries (17 January 1935).

[38] Cited in Longo Adorno, p. 54.

[39] See De Felice, Storia degli ebrei italiani, p. 222.

[40] Diary entry of 20 February, 1935; Dr Giuseppe Viterbo’s private archive. Sacerdoti’s fascist sympathies are recalled in Augusto Segre’s memoirs, pp. 150-51. See also, as an example, Sacerdoti’s letter to Mussolini of 10 July 1933 in De Felice, Storia degli ebrei italiani, Appendix 4, pp. 494-97.

[41] Segre, Memorie di vita ebraica, pp. 181; 202-205. He was also refused employment by several Jewish communities because he was a Zionist (pp. 260-61) as were other Zionist Jews. See also by the same author, ‘Per il 30 compleanno della “Rassegna”: movimenti ebraici in Italia durante il periodo razziale’, Rassegna Mensile di Israel, 31, 8-9 (1965), pp. 382-93: ‘da fascistissimi presidenti e consiglieri … si ebbe la lotta più aperta … le “teste calde” dei giovani sionisti furono relegate nelle “liste nere” (p. 387). See also Anselmo Calò, ‘Stampa e propaganda antisemita del regime fascista prima delle leggi razziali’, in Francesco Del Canuto (ed.), Israel. “Un decennio” 1974-1984. Saggi sull’ebraismo italiano (Rome: Carucci, 1984), pp. 115-63.

[42] See Sarfatti, Gli ebrei nell’Italia fascista, pp. 98-104; 128-29; 131-32; by the same author, ‘Gli ebrei negli anni del fascismo: vicende, identità, persecuzione’ in Storia d’Italia. Annali 11, vol.2 Dall’emancipazione a oggi, pp. 1623-1764 (pp. 1661-2).

[43] See for example, Francesco Del Canuto, ‘La stampa ebraica in Italia dall’emancipazione alla seconda guerra mondiale’ in Bice Migliau (ed.), La cultura ebraica nell’editoria italiana (1955-1990) (Rome: Ministero per i Beni Culturali e Ambientali, 1992), pp. 67-78: ‘fu l’unica voce di libera replica agli attacchi della stampa del regime’ (p. 76); Della Seta and Carpi, pp. 1340-41; Guido Lopez, ‘Sionista ad oltranza’, Israel, December 1974, p. 11: ‘egli [Viterbo] rievoca fieramente la situazione degli anni 1933-1938 quando egli, e un gruppo abbastanza piccolo di sionisti, con grande dignità e sereno coraggio si opposero agli attacchi del Popolo di Roma, del Tevere, del Regime Fascista, rivendicando … il diritto a proclamarsi legati all’amore per Sion. Altri facevano a gara in profferte di fascismo e di italianità ad oltranza’.

[44] See Del Canuto, ‘La soppressione della stampa ebraica’, pp. 468-71; Amos Luzzatto, ‘Autocoscienza e identità ebraica’, in Storia d’Italia, Annali 11, vol.2, pp. 1829-1900 (p. 1845); Stille, pp. 75-77. See also Dan Vittorio Segre’s personal account in Memoirs of a Fortunate Jew. An Italian Story (London: Peter Halban, 1998): he recalls Ettore Ovazza’s visit to his house to put his proposal of vandalism against Israel to his father in the hope that he would take part. Ovazza was his cousin (pp. 79-82).

[45] Del Canuto, ‘La soppressione della stampa ebraica’, p. 471.

[46] Ettore Ovazza and his family were brutally murdered by the Nazis; see Stille, pp. 88-89. Other Bandieristi were also exterminated. In his memoirs, Augusto Segre writes that ‘il senso di pietà verso la loro misera fine mi ha sempre indotto a mettere un velo su quelle persone’, even though he could say so much more about them (p. 181). On the category of the discriminati, see Sarfatti, Gli ebrei nell’Italia fascista, pp. 162-63.

[47] Israel, 25 February 1965. Viterbo also recalls his own stance at that meeting in 1935: ‘spettò proprio a me di farmi portavoce dei sionisti decisi a non ripiegare … spettò a me difendere i Fondi Nazionali … che i “bandieristi” avrebbero voluto escludere da ogni attività diretta, in Italia’ (ibid;).

[48] Israel, 11 March and 1 April 1965.

[49] Sorani, ‘Un caro amico’, Israel, 1974, p. 10.

[50] Settimio Sorani, L’assistenza ai profughi ebrei in Italia (1933-1947). Contributo alla storia della “Delasem” (Rome: Carucci, 1983), p. 57; by the same author, ‘Un caro amico’, Israel, 1974, p. 10. See also John A. Davis, The Jews of San Nicandro (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2010), p. 96: ‘The Delegation to Assist Emigrating Jews … in which Raffaele Cantoni and Carlo Alberto Viterbo … were key players’. On these organizations to help Jewish refugees and collect funds on their behalf, see also, for example, Stille, pp. 223-78; Sarfatti, Gli ebrei nell’Italia fascista pp. 214, 278-80; Della Seta and Carpi, ‘Il movimento sionistico’, pp. 1336, 1343-46, 1354; in the same volume, Sarfatti, ‘Gli ebrei negli anni di fascismo’, pp. 1662-68, 1725-26,1761; Amos Luzzatto, ‘Autocoscienza e identità ebraica’, pp. 1846-48; Augusto Segre, Memorie di vita ebraica, pp. 230-60; Sergio Minerbi, Raffaele Cantoni, pp. 52-66; 113-14; Rosa Paini, I sentieri della speranza. Profughi ebrei, Italia fascista e “La Delasem” (Milan: Xenia, 1988), and Klaus Voigt, ‘Jewish Refugees and Immigrants in Italy, 1933-1945’, in Ivo Herzer (ed.). Co edited by Klaus Voigt and James Burgwyn, The Italian Refuge. Rescue of Jews during the Holocaust (Washington DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 1989), pp. 141-58.

[51] Amos Luzzatto, ‘Autocoscienza e identità ebraica’, pp. 1847; 1848.

[52] Cited in Alessandra Minerbi, ‘Tra solidarietà e timori: gli ebrei italiani di fronte all’arrivo dei profughi ebrei dalla Germania nazista’, in Alberto Burgio (ed.), Nel nome della razza: il razzismo nella storia d’Italia 1870-1945 (Bologna: Il Mulino, 2000), pp. 309-319 (p. 311).

[53] See Sarfatti, Gli ebrei nell’Italia fascista, Appendix 2, ‘Relazione sull’attività dell’Unione delle Comunità israelitiche italiane dal giugno 1933 al settembre 1934’, XIII, ‘Per gli ebrei di Germania’, pp. 321-24. In this section, Ravenna glosses over the divisions and delays in assisting the German Jews.

[54] See De Felice, Storia degli ebrei italiani, pp. 194-95; Viterbo, ‘Una vita per l’ebraismo’, p. 8; Viterbo, Nuovi manoscritti Falascià, Estratto dall’Annuario di Studi Ebraici 1935-37 (Rome: Nuove Grafiche, 1938), pp. 113-23; Carlo Alberto Viterbo and Ahron Cohen, Ebrei di Etiopia. Due diari (1936 e 1976) (Florence: Giuntina, 1993); Carlo Alberto Viterbo, ‘Relazione al Ministero dell’Africa Italiana dell’opera svolta in A.O.I in rappresentanza dell’Unione delle Comunità Israelitiche Italiane’, in Del Canuto, Israel. Un decennio, pp. 47-113; Emanuela Trevisan Semi, ‘Ethiopian Jews in Europe: Taamrat Emmanuel in Italy and Makonnen Levi in England’, in Tudor Parfitt and Emanuela Trevisan Semi (eds), Jews of Ethiopia. The Birth of an Elite (London and New York: Routledge, 2005), pp. 74-100. Taamrat remained close to Viterbo after the latter’s return to Italy and asked him to send copies of Israel (p. 85).

[55] Viterbo e Cohen, Ebrei di Etiopia, pp. 24; 37; 73.

[56] See De Felice, Storia degli ebrei italiani, pp. 361-63: two hundred Italian Jews were arrested on 10/11 June 1940. See also Umberto Scazzocchio, ‘Quattro incontri’, Israel, December 1974, p. 9, on meeting Viterbo in Rome during the war when he had been given permission to travel there accompanied by a policeman who, despite the circumstances, he treated with courtesy.

[57] On the internment camps in Italy, of which there were 51, see, for example, Carlo Spartaco Capogreco, ‘L’internamento degli ebrei stranieri ed apolidi dal 1940 al 1943: il caso di Ferramonti-Tarsia’, in Mezzabotta, Italia Judaica, pp. 533-63; the camps are listed on p. 563; by the same author, I campi del duce. L’internamento civile nell’Italia fascista (1940-1943) (Turin: Einaudi, 2004), and Luigi Reale, Mussolini’s Concentration Camps for Civilians. An Insight into the Nature of Fascist Racism (London: Vallentine Mitchell, 2011).

[58] Viterbo, letter to his wife, 5 July 1940; private archive of Dr Giuseppe Viterbo. I am grateful to Giuseppe Viterbo for permitting me to read this private correspondence. See also Settimio Sorani, L’assistenza ai profughi ebrei in Italia, p. 75, and Giuseppe Viterbo, ‘Mio Padre’, in Del Canuto, Israel. “Un decennio”, pp. 15-16.

[59] Letter of 8 April 1941, private archive; letter of 10 June 1940 in Mario Avagliano and Marco Palmieri (eds), Gli ebrei sotto la persecuzione in Italia. Diari e lettere 1938-1945 (Turin: Einaudi, 2011), p. 71.

[60] Viterbo, letter of 30 June 1940 in Avagliano and Palmieri, p. 131. His letters describing prison life are dated 2, 5, 12 and 22 July 1940 (private archive). See also Avagliano and Palmieri, Introduction, pp. xxiv; xxv; xxvi; xxxvii.

[61] Had he remained, his fate would have been different: ‘the camp [Urbisaglia] closed on 22 October 1943, and the internees were all handed over to the Germans to be transferred to the Sforzacosta camp, and subsequently to Auschwitz’; Reale, Mussolini’s Concentraion Camps, p. 78.

[62] Viterbo, ‘Una vita per l’ebraismo’, p. 8. See also Sorani, ‘Un caro amico’, p. 10; Amos Luzzatto, ‘Autocoscienza e identità ebraica’: ‘la Delasem … soprattutto i suoi dirigenti, con tenacia eroica non sospesero mai la propria attività’ (p. 1855). On the immediate post-war activities of Delasem, see Sorani, L’assistenza ai profughi ebrei in Italia, pp. 158-60; 164, and Della Seta and Carpi, pp. 1362-66.

[63] See Francesco Del Canuto, ‘La ripresa delle attività sionistiche e delle organizzazioni ebraiche alla Liberazione’, Rassegna Mensile di Israel, 47, 1-3 (1981), pp. 174-219 (pp. 179-80). At the FSI conference in March 1961, Viterbo and Cantoni (vice-president) were ousted by younger members, led by Leo Levi, who described them as dinosaurs; see Israel, 13 April 1961; Minerbi, Raffaele Cantoni, pp. 240-41. Viterbo was nominated Honorary President; see Israel, 16 March 1961.

[64] Attilio Milano, ‘Per il 30 compleanno della “Rassegna”: la ripresa della stampa ebraica in Italia’, Rassegna Mensile di Israel, 31, 2 (1965), pp. 51-69 (p. 53).

[65] Ibid. See also Del Canuto, ‘La ripresa delle attività sionistische’, pp. 181-90; and Della Seta and Carpi, pp. 1357-58.

[66] Viterbo, ‘Una vita per l’ebraismo’, p. 8. See also Del Canuto, ‘La soppressione della stampa ebraica’: ‘fu un atto di grande coraggio e di speranza in quegli anni ancora bui’ (p. 473).

[67] Della Seta and Carpi, p. 1353.

[68] See Del Canuto, ‘La ripresa delle attività sionistiche’, p. 175; Della Seta and Carpi, pp. 1351-53. The Palestinian soldiers produced the first newspaper in Hebrew to be published in Italy (p. 1354). They also established cultural clubs and schools in Rome and Florence: see Del Canuto, ‘La ripresa delle attività sionistiche’, pp. 182-95.

[69] See Israel, 12 December 1946; Viterbo’s unpublished Curriculum Vitae.

[70] See Del Canuto, ‘La ripresa delle attività sionistiche’, pp. 217-18.

[71] Augusto Segre, Memorie di vita ebraica, pp. 381-88. See also Israel, Edizione Straordinaria, 2 December 1947; 4 and 18 December 1947. One of Viterbo’s favourite front pages of Israel was that of 16 May 1948 with the headlines ‘Stato d’Israele’ and ‘Weizmann presidente’ accompanied by a photograph. See Giorgio Romano, ‘Viterbo giornalista’, Israel, December 1974, p. 3.

[72] Weizmann, p. 356.

[73] See Della Seta and Carpi, p. 1340.

[74] Milano, ‘Per il 30 compleanno della “Rassegna”’, p. 53. See also Giorgio Romano, ‘Il direttore di “Israel”, in Del Canuto, Israel. “Un decennio”, pp. 19-22 (p.19): ‘Il settimanale “Israel” … era considerato rappresentativo dell’ebraismo italiano’.

[75] See Milano, ‘Per il compleanno della “Rassegna”, p. 54; Romano, ‘Il direttore di “Israel”, p. 19.

[76] See the report on Israel presented to the FSI conference in Livorno in January 1958, in CAHJP, Aap, pp. 143-45 (Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People, Jerusalem), cited in Matteo di Figlia, Israele e la sinistra. Gli ebrei nel dibattito pubblico italiano dal 1945 a oggi (Rome: Donzelli Editore, 2012), p. 29, n. 102.

[77] Giuseppe Viterbo, correspondence with the author, 30 March 2012. See also Romano, p. 20.

[78] See Romano, ‘Il direttore di “Israel”’, p. 20.

[79] See Israel, 2 July 1959. See also Augusto Segre, Memorie: ‘[Viterbo] difese l’Ebraismo e il sionismo sempre a viso aperto, con serenità e fermezza di fronte a tutti, anche con sacrifici personali’ (p. 373).

[80] Israel, 10 December 1964.

[81] Fausto Pitigliani, ‘Il messaggio di Carlo Alberto Viterbo’, Rassegna Mensile di Israel, 40, 9 (1974), pp. 338-44 (p. 339).

[82] See, for example, Israel, 20 February, 24 April, 1 May and 31 July 1947.

[83] See the issues of Israel, December 1944; 1945-46 in a series of articles with the title ‘Atroci realtà’.

[84] Israel, 14 January 1965; his letter was published in English. For the other letters, see Israel 24 December 1964 and 4 February 1965.

[85] Augusto Segre, Memorie, p. 373. See also Yoseph Colombo, ‘Carlo Alberto Viterbo’, Rassegna Mensile di Israel, 40, 9 (1974), pp. 335-37: ‘Il vuoto che la sua scomparsa lascia … è veramente incolmabile. Senza di lui potrà il giornale continuare a vivere? Temo di no’ (p. 337); and Mario Ottolenghi, ‘Quel che più ci ha unito’, Israel, December 1974, p. 5: ‘Pochi come lui hanno dedicato interamente la propria vita alla causa della rinascita ebraica’. Ottolenghi was a close friend and fellow Zionist from the 1920s. He was also co-editor of Israel in the 1930s when Pacifici emigrated to Israel.

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